had yet to find a “control.” “It’s only 50 cc’s,” she demurred. So I drew the blood sample from Régis, and Margaret drew a sample from me. “I guess this makes us blood brothers,” said Régis, smiling.
All of these patients required lots of attention and we saw them frequently, but the nature of our office waiting room was changing. With the exception of Régis, there was no mistaking that these patients were poorer and sicker than the private patients who shared the waiting area with them. The private patients would consciously or unconsciously sit as far from the Haitians as they could. I’m sure many wondered what they were doing there. If two or more Haitians were waiting, they and their families would chatter in Creole, while the private patients waited silently, with their noses buried in The New Yorker or Sports Illustrated. Sometimes, if a particularly sick Haitian was waiting, a private patient would stare as if seeing an apparition. Still, no overt objections were raised, for the reason the Haitians were there remained a secret.
Now, two or three new cases a week were being admitted to the hospital. Only half survived to be discharged. One corridor of one floor was exclusively occupied by Haitian patients with AIDS. Because they were poor, without resources, frequently living here illegally and unaware that this disease was among them, many arrived at the hospital moribund. The residents continued to work heroically to keep them alive, but the high mortality was eroding morale.
Leguerre was a case in point. He was admitted with fever and swollen lymph nodes. When presenting him during attending rounds, Jim, his intern, remarked that although his neurological exam showed no localizing signs, his speech did not make sense, even to the Creole interpreter. I commented that even this subtle a change in mental status might be a clue to the kinds of central nervous system infections that afflicted so many of our patients. When we went to his bedside to examine him, we found a patient who had changed drastically since Jim had last seen him a few hours before. He was now paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. Jim was